How Does Child Support Work in North Carolina?

Both parents are responsible for providing child support in North Carolina. However, only the non-custodial parent must make support payments if this parent has less than 123 overnights per year with the child. In such cases, the custodial parent (the parent having more than 242 overnights with the child) is already assumed to be spending the required amount on the minor child directly. Payments typically continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is last. Under no circumstances will child support continue beyond the minor’s 20th birthday.

In cases of shared physical custody, i.e., where each parent has at least 123 overnights with the child, child support is determined based on a formula that weighs the ratio of the parents’ incomes and the number of overnights that each parent has with the child.

How does child support work?

There are a number of key factors that determine the amount of one’s child support obligation. These include, but are not limited to, the incomes of both parents, the number of children in need of support and the child custody arrangements. The calculation of one’s child support obligation is generally governed by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, published by the Conference of Chief District Court Judges (available on North Carolina’s Child Support Enforcement website). However, a court can deviate from this amount, should it find the child support amount to be inconsistent with the child’s needs or if it would otherwise be unjust or inappropriate. In actual practice, obtaining a deviation from the child support guidelines is typically quite difficult.

In addition to direct support payments to the other parent, a parent may also be obligated to contribute to childcare costs and other expenses, including medical insurance coverage for the minor child.

When determining the amount of a child support obligation, the North Carolina Child Support guidelines consider income from any source, including (but not limited to) salary, bonuses and/or commissions, pension, or severance pay. Capital gains, annuity income, Social Security benefits, worker’s compensation income, alimony received from a former spouse, or even income attributable to the use of a company vehicle may also be used to determine the amount of child support due.

Income that may be excluded from the calculation of a child support obligation includes support received for other children, food benefits, and other forms of general public assistance, just to name a few.

How do I calculate Child Support?

The state of North Carolina provides online worksheets to help determine the amount of support required by a parent. Custody issues must have been resolved, at least on a temporary basis, as the worksheets differ depending on the custody time arrangement that applies.

Can my child support amount be changed?

From time to time, the amount of child support as determined by these Guidelines may not meet the needs of the child. If a parent wishes to change and modify the child support amount required, he or she can request a hearing with the assigned judge. The judge has the authority to adjust the amount of support up or down, depending on the evidence presented (and according to the Guidelines), so long as the judge is satisfied that a “substantial change” of circumstances has occurred since the entry of the existing order, i.e., the order that you are requesting to change. According to the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, if the amount of child support ordered under the existing order is 15% different (more or less) than the suggested new amount, based on the changed incomes of the parties and/or relevant expenses of the child that may have changed, then the court will presume that the child support amount should be modified. In such case, the court will most likely change the child support amount ordered.

How does child support work? At a time when you’re vulnerable both financially and emotionally, you need the advice of an experienced North Carolina attorney. At Montgomery Family Law, we’re ready to listen to your concerns, organize the crucial information, and help facilitate the best possible outcome for your unique situation. Call us today at (919) 348-2317 or use our contact form to arrange for an initial consultation.

For further assistance, or if you need help with your child support case, contact the attorneys at Montgomery Family Law.